Thank you for contacting me about the proposed reforms to the higher education sector.
I welcome the comments made by the Secretary of State for Education, that our universities and the wider higher education system, are some of the most innovative and important institutions in the country. I believe that they are the centres of innovation and research and will play a significant role in the prosperity of our country in the coming years.
However, ministers are aware that the current system is not perfect and as such solutions are needed to deliver a fairer deal for students and taxpayers. In 2018, the Department for Education commissioned a review of post-16 education and funding which was chaired by Sir Philip Augar and has produced a number of key recommendations for reforming the system. The Department has now considered these recommendations and has put forward a number of proposals to reform the system.
This includes the introduction minimum eligibility requirements to ensure that all students are prepared to benefit from higher education prior to commencing a university course. This could include the a return to the requirement of two E grades at A-Level, or a pass in GCSE English and Maths to qualify for a student loan. However, I have been assured that were this to go ahead there will be exemptions for some groups, including mature students and part-time learners. I understand that if these proposed exemptions were to be applied, less than one per cent of total entrants will be affected by a minimum eligibility at GCSE level. These proposals are currently subject to a consultation and ministers have committed to listening to a range of views and being open minded.
This reform, alongside others that the Department is considering, is designed to help limit the uncontrolled growth of provision that does not lead to good outcomes or good jobs for graduates. It will also ensure that every student who does go to university will be able to reap its full benefits and not feel as if they have been mis-sold or saddled with debt after they have completed their course. These proposed reforms will help create a higher education system that is fair and sustainable for students and the taxpayer.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.